Essential Requirements for Live Streams, Webinars, and Webcasts
Out of all the requirements for live streams, connectivity is the most important. Is the line you’ll be using dedicated to streaming? How fast is it? How reliable is it? Are ports 80, 443 & 1935 open inbound and outbound? Are there proxies & firewalls that might interfere with the stream? Also, make sure you’re not being dumped on the delegate Wi-Fi. This is a classic – it’ll work fine until the room is filled with 200 folks on their phones.
Connection testing in advance of a webcast should be one of the non-negotiable requirements for live streams. If you can’t test then you can’t guarantee anything will work. We always take our LTE/4G bonded backup connections to every single job because there’s still the risk of that something unexpected happening on the clients network and one connection is a single point of failure.
Run two of everything. We do as it makes us sleep better. The industry standard for stream redundancy is dual encoders running to primary and secondary publishing points. The secondary encoder uses our own LTE bonding internet connection. Kinura also uses an extra layer of redundancy as we run both of the independent streams to a Virtual Master Control Room (VMCR). So even if there is a simultaneous failure on both the primary and backup streams the stream won’t drop and you can communicate this to your audience while you fix the problem.
Of all the requirements for live streams, sound gets overlooked the most. Bad audio makes great content unwatchable. Make sure your sound techs understand that the event is going out online and not just in the room. Room sound and stream sound aren’t the same thing – room sound usually isn’t loud enough for the steam so check levels properly.
Make sure soundchecks are build into the event schedule and soundcheck with stand-ins before guests arrive. Agree the method of communication between the video team and the sound tech so levels can be tweaked during the event if necessary.
You can get your technical requirements for live streams perfect but if you don’t tell anyone you’re streaming, you’ll have no audience. This might sound obvious, but so many clients forget to plug their webcast with a pre-planned, measurable strategy. You should be telling your audience at least one month, one week, one day and then one hour before you go live. Then, you should follow up immediately with the on-demand. It’s not hard, required little planning and give you significant ROI. Also, get your presenters to promote the event through their own channels whether that’s on social or internally.
Even if this is an internal comms stream to staff, if you don’t brand your live stream you miss a big opportunity, both to make it look professional and communicate with your audience throughout your webcast or webinar.
All you need to do is create some simple images to top and tail each session. Use these to tell people what time you’ll be live, how to interact, to say ‘thank you for watching’ and so on. This makes a big difference to the audience’s experience.
Beyond that, you should add ‘lower third’ name straps showing speakers’ names and job titles. It’s likely someone who’s watching doesn’t know what your speaker/CEO/whatever is called. That’s why they do this on every factual program you watch. Also, mixing graphics live saves a lot of time on post-production. If you can just top&tail your live stream broadcast you can have the on-demand ready to go in minutes.
Although this isn’t one of the technical requirements for live streams it’ll have a big effect on your ROI. Give your audience a way to interact with the live stream or they’ll tune out. At a minimum, you should make sure your hosts/presenters welcome the online audience and continue to engage with them throughout.